MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Leaders at Myrtle Beach International Airport plan to use this offseason to prepare for next summer on the heels of a record travel season.
Ryan Betcher with MYR said the airport’s worst year led to what will be its busiest year yet because MYR’s post-pandemic recovery rate is higher than the national average — something he attributes in part to the changing culture of travel.
“Going from business traffic to a leisure market like ours,” he said. “We were very fortunate with our carriers that they saw the demand for people wanting to come to Myrtle Beach and then also our locals wanting to get out. So, it’s something we tried to take advantage of that offseason.”
In the past year, the airport opened more TSA security lines and recently added new concessions, like Starbucks. Betcher said their staff puts a big emphasis on traveler experience.
A new baggage system, specifically designed with golf bags in mind, is also new to the airport.
The tarmac is now wider and refinished. The $60 million federally-funded project, Betcher said was needed after some wear and tear in the asphalt. The new grounds are made of concrete, which he says will last longer.
A lot of the changes on the horizon at MYR will be behind the scenes, such as the addition of another 100,000-gallon fuel tank — enough for three days during the summer travel season.
“Just having additional capacity it’s really going to give us that added protection,” Betcher said. “Just a little bit more supply to weather any kind of disruptions in supply chains.”
Starting this month, canopies will be installed over the rental car parking lot. Along with computer systems to help streamline the rental process. The project costs about $20 million and will be completed in two phases over the next two years.
While airport leaders plan to move forward with expanding and adding another terminal, the pandemic slowed that process.
This is, however, the first winter that both Terminal A and Terminal B will stay open. Typically, one is closed to ease the burden on concession and janitorial staff during slow months, but Betcher says with the addition of Southwest Airlines service, they need the space.
“We’re just seeing demand even in the shoulder season going into the offseason higher than it’s ever been before so, we really need that gate space,” he said.